UT Wordmark Primary UT Wordmark Formal Shield Texas UT News Camera Chevron Close Search Copy Link Download File Hamburger Menu Time Stamp Open in browser Load More Pull quote Cloudy and windy Cloudy Partly Cloudy Rain and snow Rain Showers Snow Sunny Thunderstorms Wind and Rain Windy Facebook Instagram LinkedIn Twitter email alert map calendar bullhorn

UT News

Researchers Examine the Science of Social Interaction, Reconciling the Head and the Heart, Analyzing Racial Fears

Psychologists, neuroscientists and economists will examine the science of social interactions–from fears about race to emotion-based decision-making–at The University of Texas at Austin’s ‘Neural Systems of Social Behavior’ conference at the Hilton Hotel, May 11-13.

Two color orange horizontal divider

AUSTIN, Texas—Psychologists, neuroscientists and economists will examine the science of social interactions—from fears about race to emotion-based decision-making—at The University of Texas at Austin’s "Neural Systems of Social Behavior" conference at the Hilton Hotel, May 11-13.


Jennifer Beer, a Harrington Fellow at the university who organized the national conference, will discuss the "Orbitofrontal Cortex: Making Emotion Work for You and Not Against You" at 1:45 p.m. Beer tackles the "head versus heart" argument by examining whether rational and emotional decision-making processes are parts of different thought systems or whether they come together in the orbitofrontal cortex, which rests in the front part of the brain above the eyes.

David Amaral, professor of medical psychiatry from the University of California at Davis, will discuss the "Neurobiology of Social Behavior in the Rhesus Monkey" at 6:15 p.m. He explores how the brain defines social interactions and whether animal models are reliable proxies for human behavior.


Elizabeth Phelps, professor of psychology at New York University, will discuss the "Social Learning of Fear" at 10 a.m. Phelps analyzes how neural mechanisms associated with fear extend to how people learn through observation and language. She investigates how people’s fears about members of a different race persist longer than those about their own.

Ralph Adolphs, professor of psychology and neuroscience at the California Institute of Technology, will discuss "Facial Processing, the Amygdala and Autism" at 2:30 p.m. Adolphs studies how autism may develop from how the amygdala, which processes memory and emotional reactions, interacts with other parts of the brain.

The conference is open to the public, but registration is required and space is limited. For more information, visit Department of Psychology Lectures and Events and Neural Systems of Social Behavior Conference.

Weekend photo opportunities: Media are invited to interview the speakers and cover the presentations, which will include visual elements such as brain scans.

For more information contact: Jennifer Beer, Harrington Fellow, Department of Psychology, 512-471-1157; Christian Clarke Casarez, director of public affairs, College of Liberal Arts, 512-471-4945.